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he TRAVELIFE team recently flew to Hyderabad, India to piece together the lives of the Nizams of Hyderabad, and to recreate some of the most special experiences associated with them. The 7th and last Nizam of Hyderabad was once considered the wealthiest man in the world, and his lifestyle was legendary even among kings. Central to our amazing experiences was a stay at the beautiful TAJ Falaknuma Palace, on top of a mountain that overlooks the city. It was once the home of the Nizams, and it’s hosted royalty from all over the world. Today it is considered one of the most luxurious destination hotels in the world, as well as the top attraction in Hyderabad.

Model REBIKA DEBBARMA. Photographed on location in India by DAVID LIM. Additional photography by CHRISTINE CUNANAN. Special thanks to the TAJ FALAKNUMA HOTEL, TAJ KHAZANA and CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS.


Princess in a Palace


AFTERNOON TEA WITH THE ROYALS Designed by an English architect, the Taj Falaknuma Palace is a rare blend of Italian and Tudor architecture. The Jade Room leads to an expansive terrace with Italian marble floors and columns. It’s the ideal place for afternoon tea, a beloved ritual of the Nizams.


CAVE OF WONDERS True to its name, the Taj Khazana, located just beyond these walls, is a treasure trove of art and design goods that represent the best of the local culture. Take home a part of Hyderabad by choosing from its selection of items befitting royal guests.


JADE ROOM The Jade Room is one of the most magnificent venues at the palace, having held receptions for dignitaries like King Edward VIII and Czar Nicolas II. The room showcases different collections of jewels and art from all over the world. It has Victorianstyle hand painted ceilings, Belgian-cut glass chandeliers, and marvelous view of the 400-year-old city.


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W

e landed in Hyderabad, India at 3 AM, one warm day in April.

Still half-asleep as we sped down the airport highway, I glanced out the car window at an unpromising start to five days in an exotic city that few travelers know about. I saw neighborhoods made up of new low-rise buildings and crumbling old houses, broken up only occasionally by boulders and hills. Even in the darkness, I could make out the dust and the general disorder that still dominates much of urban India.

DIAMO

ROUG

IN THE

CHRISTINE CUNANA a gem of a destination in

But I had not traveled halfway across Asia to see the modern sprawl of an ambitious country. I had come to experience a beautiful palace from a lost world, and then to stay at an equally impressive one straight out of the 21st century.

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MONDS

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CUNANAN uncovers tination in southern India

THE MIRROR OF THE SKY Translated as the ‘Mirror of the Sky,’ the Taj Falaknuma Palace mirrors not only the changing moods of the sky as it stands 2,000 feet above the city, but also the history of the Nizams. The opulent scorpion-shaped palace was originally designed in 1894 by British architect William Mard Marret for then Prime Minister Vicar-Ul-Umra. The palace took 10 years to build at a cost of four million rupees.

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It was truly a journey of new discoveries. We found women wearing the burka on the streets and we photographed graceful structures with hints of the Middle East. We enjoyed soulful songs of worship that originated in Pakistan, and we listened with fascination to the stories of the Nizams, who were literally larger than life.

ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL HOTELS IN THE WORLD After about half an hour, we turned off the main road onto a narrow lane that took us to the Taj Falaknuma Palace Hotel, the first of our two hotels in Hyderabad and one of the world’s most talked-about destination hotels. This was the main reason we had booked a flight to Hyderabad; discovering more about the culture of the wealthy, offthe-tourist-radar state of Andhra Pradesh, where Hyderabad is located, was just something we hoped would happen along the way. We found a state and a city unique in India for the prevalence of Islamic culture and in the lasting presence of rulers who lived more grandly than most other kings. The rulers of Hyderabad were addressed by the title of His Exalted Highness, automatically making them a cut higher than the rulers of the other princely states, even if this honor was bestowed by the British mainly based on taxes paid to the Empire.

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WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED

THE RULERS OF HYDERABAD The Nizam of Hyderabad is the title given to every ruler of Hyderabad since 1724. Over generations, the Nizams avidly collected artworks, jewels, pearls, silver and gold. They were also known for their lavish lifestyles and elegant palaces. The last Nizam, who ruled from 1911 to 1948, reportedly had a fortune valued at US$2 billion in the 1940s.

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Hyderabad is not usually anyone’s first choice for a holiday in India. However, although less well-known today vis-à-vis more glamorous or sophisticated Indian destinations like Mumbai, Jaipur or Delhi, Hyderabad actually once trumped them all because of the majestic lifestyle of its last two rulers. A Nizam, which is how the rulers of Hyderabad were styled, lorded over the city for over 200 years; but it was the 6th and 7th Nizams that were mainly responsible for putting Hyderabad on the world map.

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“This beautifully-arranged dining table seats 101 for a formal dinner, reportedly making it the longest in the world.� JUNE-JULY 2013

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CITY OF JEWELS Hyderabad’s fortune was founded on diamonds, mined from the imposing and almost impenetrable Golconda Fort nearby. The fort is accessed via winding streets so narrow that these once prevented enemies from storming it. And from its bowels have come some of the world’s most famous stones, including the Hope Diamond and the Koh-iNoor diamond.

TREASURES OF HYDERABAD Unearthed in the 17th century, the Hope Diamond is the largest deep blue diamond in the world. In the past, the owners of this gem have reportedly experienced bad luck and tragedies. The Koh-i-noor Diamond, once owned by India’s Nizams until Britain colonized Punjab in 1849, are now part of the British Crown Jewels.

The entire city benefited from the abundance of these precious gems. Hyderabad’s diamonds also once made Mir Osman Ali Khan, the 7th and last Nizam, the wealthiest man in the world. Even today, his jewelry collection is legendary, as is the manner in which he lived. The Nizams had many palaces in Hyderabad, but the 19th century Falaknuma Palace, which translates as “Mirror of the Sky,” was considered among the finest in the state, if not in the country. In reality, it is neither as grand as other palaces nor as awe-inspiring as other historical monuments elsewhere in the world. However, you will leave inspired by the beauty of its details and opulent interiors, and the calmness of its symmetry. There can be no doubt that this once palatial home of an illustrious family is one of the world’s greatest palaces.

WHAT TO BUY PRECIOUS PEARLS Hyderabad is dubbed as the ‘City of Pearls,’ not only because of the Nizams’ legacy, but also because of the passion of the locals for the ‘Queen of Jewels,’ and especially for the highly precious Basra pearls.

On that early morning, suddenly face-to-face with the magnificent façade of the outer gate of Falaknuma Palace, dramatically lit so that it glowed amidst a black sky, we were welcomed by a sight so surreal as to rouse even the ancient spirits from eternal sleep: a horse and carriage driven by a uniformed coachman were patiently waiting to literally transport us, via a 10 minute ride through the grounds to the main palace, back in time. This may be the 21st century and the palace is now a hotel. However, the Taj Hotels has preserved the original atmosphere of the palace via a decade-long restoration project that seems more a labor of love than a commercial effort. They’ve certainly succeeded in making you truly feel like a guest of the Nizam, when you check-in here.

The popularity of Basra pearls dates back to 300 B.C. These have always been renowned for their unmatched luster and color, and local lore has it that these have brought good fortune and miracles to their owners, as well as to those who have simply stared at them. Harvested from the Persian Gulf, most Basra pearls are yellowish in tint, and characterized by irregular shapes. The spherical ones are most prized. Although Basra pearls are increasingly becoming rare, you can still buy good quality strands from reputable jewelers in the Charminar, especially in Pathergatti and the Laad Bazaar. The processing of the pearls is usually done by highlyskilled artisans, who come from families with years of experience in handling precious stones.

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The 7th Nizam took over this ornate but tasteful palace of Italian and British design, and then outfitted it with rich décor, the best of European styles and the latest gadgetry, including the first en suite bathtub in India. It was once the home of his brother-in-law, an ambitious man who went broke building his palace that seemed to touch the sky. His wife, the Nizam’s sister, very wisely encouraged her husband to offer his precious palace to her brother as a gift. The Nizam accepted and they were generously repaid with the equivalent of the cost of building the Falaknuma Palace.

GUESTS OF THE NIZAM One evening, we went on a private tour with Mr. Prabhakar Mahindrakar, the palace historian. This experience, offered only to hotel guests, enabled us to enjoy the Falaknuma Palace all to ourselves. Mr. Prabhakar led us around the empty but fullylit rooms, recalling tidbits from history and weaving wondrous stories of grandeur as we walked the creaking wooden floors. He described a fantasy life of princesses dripping with diamonds and emeralds at dinner, luxurious afternoons of polo and endless martinis, and historical meetings with some of the greatest men of the time. At one point, he made me sit at the very head of the world’s longest dining table – a table created from seven pieces to sit 101 persons, where the Nizam had once entertained royalty and heads of state.

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SAVED BY THE TAJ The Falaknuma Palace was in a state of disrepair for many years after the 7th and last Nizam and his family left Hyderabad. However the Taj Hotels, with the guidance of the Turkishborn Princess Esra, first wife of the 7th Nizam, has successfully renovated this architectural and interiors jewel to such a degree that it is comfortably luxurious for tourists and yet most authentic in restoration.

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Photo by David Lim

“The colorful hand-painted foyer of the Taj Falaknu ma Palace could so easily have been somewhere in a grand palace in Europe.”

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INDIA From my vantage point was a straight but dramatic line of five Belgian chandeliers, and multi-sensory impressions of gold and glitter that left me speechless. I was back at the turn of the 20th century at a dinner party with King George VI and Queen Mary as guests. Mr. Prabhakar, who has worked at Falaknuma Palace for 35 years, including as part of the security retinue of the 7th Nizam, also delighted in shocking us with various interesting trivia. With one hand perched on the desk in question and eyes so alive with knowledge of amazing tales, he recalled how the last Nizam had nonchalantly used the 184.5 carat Jacob Diamond, one of the world’s largest diamonds, as a paperweight on his desk. GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

A PATH PAVED WITH DIAMONDS “How did they become so rich?” We wanted to know of the Nizams, as we walked through their palace, every corner reeking with tales of their incredible lives. Apparently, private citizens seeking an audience with the Nizam had to bring a diamond as payment, and this was one of the many ways that the Nizams built their fortune. However, the most important diamond of all is the Falaknuma Palace itself, an enduring testament to the greatness of India’s past and its fascinating rulers. n

At the height of its splendor, Falaknuma Palace had 220 rooms and 22 halls spread over 32 acres and overseen by over 6,000 palace staff. Thirty-eight fulltime employees were hired just to dust the chandeliers. The library, which was inspired by Windsor Castle’s library, contains many rare books from the Nizam’s collection including the first edition of an account of the sinking of the Titanic and one of the most comprehensive collections of the Koran in India. As perhaps the most impressive home in this part of the world, the Falaknuma Palace was a necessary stop on the grand tour of India of European royalty. The 6th Nizam welcomed many dignitaries including King George VI and Queen Mary of England. Czar Nicholas II of Russia and King Edward VIII of England also stayed here when they visited India as Crown Prince of their respective countries.

FOODIE FIND Hyderabad is famous for its biryani, and it differs from the biryani in the rest of India by the way it’s cooked. The recipe for the Hyderabad biryani reportedly originated from the palace kitchens and was inspired by Mughlai and Andhra Pradesh cuisines. It’s an exquisite mix of mutton or chicken meat and aromatic basmati rice seasoned with cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and other spices. We had our best Hyderabad biryani at the Firdaus, the fine dining restaurant of the Taj Krishna Hotel and a favorite haunt of the local elite. www.tajhotels.com

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“We loved walking around the exquisite Qutub Shahi Tombs, taking photographs and interacting with the Indian fa milies having lunch and enjoying get-togethers. We were the only tourists around.�

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FOOTSTEPS NIZAM In the

of the

Live like royalty, even just for a weekend

DINNER AT THE GOL BUNGALOW It’s a scene straight out of a Nizam’s dinner, and highly recommended for a special occasion. A beautiful table is set in the middle of an ornate gazebo with the twinkling lights of Hyderabad below. Mood lighting is turned on, and the floor and pathways are lined with candles. For dinner, the chefs of Adaa, the hotel’s signature restaurant, will recreate a sumptuous meal of Hyderabadi and Deccan specialties, using recipes from the royal kitchen. The meal ends with the Hyderabad biryani, the local pride and specialty. And then you are left alone with a cup of tea and some sweets to savor the rest of this most amazing experience for as long as you wish.

THE CHAMPAGNE PALACE WALK Hotel guests can enjoy an exclusive heritage walk with Mr. Prabhakar, the palace historian, at sunset. Dubbed the Champagne Palace Walk, the tour takes guests through the best rooms of the palace, most with their original furniture and fixtures. See India’s first ensuite bathroom and the world’s longest dining table, as well as the sofa where the Nizam and the presidents of India once sat together. As you literally walk through history, the palace historian will regale you with stories of lives only too well-lived.

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DESIGNER WITH A DIFFERENCE

A CONCERT IN THE GARDEN Every evening, the TAJ Falaknuma Palace hosts a hauntingly beautiful Sufi Qawalli concert in the gardens. These are typically songs of worship sung by a group of musicians with a lead singer, while sitting cross-legged on the ground. Listening to their music and the beating of their drums, amidst the slowly enveloping darkness of the palace grounds, is an essential Hyderabadi cultural experience.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY RBS Jewellers, jewelers to the families of the Nizams since the 18th century, have discretely amassed a beautiful collection of the heirloom pieces of Hyderabad’s rulers and their women and children. Inside their small and unassuming store on a quiet street, they showed us tiny children’s enameled bracelets and several bejewelled hairpieces with solid provenance. Considered one of the city’s best jewlers, this is the store to go to for a piece of Hyderabadi history.

Hyderabad’s nobility flock to Vinita Pittie’s atelier for creative and contemporary Indian fashions made out of cotton textiles that are mostly embroidered or print-stamped by hand. There’s also another compelling reason to visit her studio and home. This charming lady lives in a lovely and fragile 200-year-old wooden house full of antiques, old tiles, wooden carvings and paintings. It’s eye candy for design afficionados seeking new inspirations from the old. The experience of ordering a dress from Mrs. Pittie is also a highlight of a visit to Hyderabad. You sit in her small but impeccably arranged living room sipping an original cooling concoction of mint and ginger tea, while her assistants show you several dozen dress samples. If anything catches your fancy, she guarantees that she can make a copy or alter an existing one before you leave Hyderabad. Even just for her mint and ginger tea, I would visit her again.

Vinita Pittie’s home & atelier

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FEAST FOR A NIZAM

as prepared by the TAJ Falaknuma Palace

Agaz The beginning

Hara Pyaz Lasooni Kebab Tandoor roasted chicken tikka with cream, garlic and scallions

Waqfa

Spinach and scallions with southern Indian spices

Dahi ke kebab A rare kebab of hung yoghurt with cardamom and green chilli

Dum Ki Nalli Gosht Lamb shank braised with onions, finished with tomato puree and rose water

Dakhni Saag Sorbet of the day

Dal Makhani Mezban

Mashgool Dastarkhwan

A taster plate of closely guarded secrets from the Nizam’s culinary repertoire

Selection of Royal Hyderabadi delicacies for your indulgence

Husn e Dariya

Hyderabadi Kacchi Biryani

Fish with Himalayan pink salt, green herb marinade

Kid lamb, marinated overnight, fragrant basmati rice, cooked in a sealed pot

Pathar Ka Gosht

Mirch Baigan Ka Salan

Escalopes of kid lamb, marinated for over 48 hours, and then cooked over a hot granite stone

Bhavnagri chillies and baby aubergine in peanut gravy

Black lentils cooked overnight, tomatoes, cream and butter Chef ’s selection of Indian breads

Zauq e Shahi Chef ’s tasting platter of Hyderabadi desserts

Malabar Prawn Curry King prawns, poached in a curry of coconut & curry leaves

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THE BEST OF

F

rom the outside, the Park Hyatt Hyderabad is a typical modern building in the upscale neighborhoods of Banjara Hills and Jubilee Hills, where most of the local elite work and live. It’s convenient for business and for exploring the city, but the views are ordinary at best. From the floor-to-ceiling windows of my corner suite, all I could see of this part of town were rubble, construction, and nondescript structures that certainly didn’t encourage me to take out my camera and post the results on Facebook.

CULTURE OVER BEAUTY But this isn’t the Park Hyatt’s fault. Hyderabad is not a pretty city but a historic one that’s still grappling with ancient traditions and lightning-quick change. Its culture, heavily influenced by Islam

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and the royal lives of the Nizams, is so unique even for a diverse country like India – and we had come to experience the best of it, old and new. This meant including a stay at the Park Hyatt Hyderabad, named one of the world’s best new hotels last year and a must-visit to see the cool, new India of IT moguls, Bollywood celebrities, and ambitious yuppies. When the architects and designers created this hotel, they probably intended the drama to build up, because your perceptions of the hotel literally work their way into a crescendo that ends up leaving you slightly breathless. The trick is to get inside the hotel first, because the magic of this beautiful property begins only when you walk into the reception hall filled with intriguing contemporary artworks, mostly by local artists.

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THE 21ST CENTURY

DRAMATIC ENTRANCE Once past the formal threshold, the almost shockingly plain entrance of gray and South Indian granite gives way to a foyer with a modern art gallery feel. An entire wall of Swarovski crystals the size of half-melted ice cubes, a sculptural lamp of plastic as tall as a person, and a steel-mesh fixture on the ceiling provide welcome texture and light after the somberness outside, albeit in a space that would never impress the luxury traveler as extraordinary in size. Nevertheless, it’s subtle glitz and glamour in a very Park Hyatt way. Until this point, absolutely nothing prepared me for what awaited when I turned right to proceed directly to my room for check-in formalities. Several meters of a rather nonchalant walk down and I found myself standing at one end of a cavernous performance theater as big as a football field, masquerading as a lobby with a lounge and an all-day dining restaurant. JUNE-JULY 2013

This vision will make you drop any pretense of sophistication. Even if you have been there and done that all over the world, I can assure you that you will not have checked into a hotel like the Park Hyatt Hyderabad as of March 2013. The main lobby is black granite with pools of water strategically placed throughout the center. The water pools are so calm and seamlessly aligned with the floor that at least one guest steps into these waters everyday, assuming that a diagonal stroll across is a shortcut from the elevators or entrance to the restaurant on the other side.

IN THE EYES OF THE BEHOLDER At the end of this hall is a luminous structure that’s 35 feet tall. Your vision will immediately be drawn to it because of the stark contrast of white against black. You won’t understand at all what

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BEAUTY, TWO WAYS The Park Hyatt Hyderabad spa is the favored destination of Bollywood celebrities for health and wellness. It’s famous for achieving optimum results by combining the ancient healing traditions and practices of the Nizams with well-known Indian herbs for beauty, decadent pearl rituals, and the latest technology and equipment. For the ultimate Nizam experience, book the Mukhavi Reform Ceremony, which is a three-hour beauty package that begins with an overall body scrub using pearl dust and then continues on to some down time in the spa’s Swarovski crystal room. Then, the therapist undertakes a one-hour pressure point stretch massage that literally lulls you to sleep. The experience ends with the ultimate indulgence: a hydra lift facial using a state-of-the-art machine that exfoliates, tones and whitens your skin all in one treatment, using a variety of liquid products.

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Photo by David Lim

“Even if you have been there and done that all over the world, I can assure you that you will not have checked into a hotel like the Park Hyatt Hyderabad as of March 2013.�

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ART ON THE WALLS The hotel is actually one big art gallery. When it’s too hot to venture outside, you can spend a very pleasant afternoon exploring the hotel and admiring its art collection for a taste of local culture circa 2013. The artworks are strategically placed so that you can keep walking and your eyes never really get tired either of too much or of too much empty expanse. I was particularly delighted by two very long walls of black marble decorated with circular framed photographs, postcards, magazine clippings, and even cereal wrappers. Yes, the artist had used the entire wall as his canvas, and the effect was a hundred different vignettes of Hyderabad life that were each fascinating in their details. If I had had a week here instead of merely a couple of days, I might have woven stories around each one.

A RAY OF SUNSHINE Meanwhile, my suite was a spacious study in minimalism, which was rather ironic considering we were in a country known for ornate and intricate designs. There were touches of Hyderabad here and there so that you never actually forgot where you were; but the accents were all done in a manner so refreshing, and so unlike everywhere else in the hotel, that I felt l was seeing the city for the first time. For instance, my bedroom and living room were furnished with a mixture of almost space-age futuristic pieces and yet also modish furniture that reminded me of the cool 1970s, for some reason. As

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wall décor, the hotel had photographs of the Charminar and other top attractions in Hyderabad, but in colors so vibrant that they almost seemed like pop art – a nice take on the ancient, especially when set against the bright, harsh sunlight of Hyderabad that seemed to frame my entire suite in an incandescent light. The best feature of my suite was the bathing area, set in a corner so that it enjoyed multiple exposures. It was an entire room in itself, simple and functional, but also so well planned. It had a deep soaking tub in the middle and a long counter that ran the length of the room, making its layout perhaps its most luxurious aspect. Actually, let me correct myself. My most luxurious memory involves ending another day in my never-endingly eventful Travelife in that exact deep soaking tub, with views of Hyderabad all around me, and the prospect of more adventures awaiting. n

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THE BEST OF

HYDERABAD

PHOTO BY DAVID LIM

Where to go and what to see

Charminar

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Qutub Shahi Tombs

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GOLKONDA FORT

Built in the 13th century during the Kakatiya dynasty, Golkonda was the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh. The fort was initially made of mud. It was reportedly created when a shepherd boy saw an idol on the hill, and it was later expanded to 11 kilometers in length, consisting of intricate designs, impressive architecture, and a unique acoustic system. It was also the source of some of the world’s most famous diamonds, including the Koh-i-Noor diamond, the Hope diamond, and the Regent diamonds.

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CHOWMAHALLA PALACE

TEXT BY KIMBERLY SIOCO

The official residence of the Nizams during the Asaf Jahi dynasty, this palace used to be the center of Hyderabad. Its construction began in 1750 but it was only completed in the late 1860s. Its name means “four palaces,” and its magnificent aesthetics were influenced by European neo-classical design, Mughal architecture, and Persian art. Inside the palace are priceless antiques and art that reflect the decadent lifestyle of the Nizams. www.chowmahalla.com

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CHARMINAR

This Indo-Islamic monument is an icon of the city and worldrenowned for its four arches and minarets. Lying along the east bank of the Musi River, it was originally intended as a mosque. There are many theories regarding its construction, but many historians believe this is the work of Qutb Shah. Surrounding the Charminar are the Laad Bazaar and Pathergatti, both popular marketplaces for jewelry, bangles, and pearls.

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QUTUB SHAHI TOMBS

Seven Qutub Shahi rulers lie here in eternal repose, within beautiful dome buildings of varying designs and ages. The tombs are worth visiting just to see the lovely architecture amidst a serene atmosphere almost devoid of tourists. The grandest tomb here is that of Muhammed Quli Qutub Shah, who died at the turn of the 17th century.

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SALAR JUNG MUSEUM

Although little known outside of Hyderabad, this is actually the third largest museum in India. Built in 1951, it consists of the prized art collection of the former Prime Minister of the 7th Nizam, Salar Jung III. The museum’s 38 galleries house over 43,000 art objects and antiques, as well as 50,000 books and manuscripts covering different civilizations. www.salarjungmuseum.in

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HYDERABAD 101 1589: Hyderabad was founded by Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah in the Telanga region. 1687: Hyderabad’s fame and the legendary wealth of its Golconda Fort attracted the Mughal Prince Aurangazeb who captured Golconda after a long seige. 1724: As the Moghul Empire began to disintegrate, Viceroy Asaf Jah I (Nizam-ul-Mulk) proclaimed himself the Nizam and established the independent rule of the Deccan. 1947: India gained independence from the British, but the 7th Nizam announced his intention to remain independent from both the British and India. 1948: The 7th Nizam finally surrendered and signed the Instrument of Accession to the newlyindependent Indian Union. Hyderabad was integrated into the Indian Union as a state. 1956: The map of India was redrawn by language, and Hyderabad became the capital of Andhra Pradesh.

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TRAVELIFE’S NAVIGATE YOURSELF

Hyderabad

NEED TO KNOW Hyderabad, the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh, is one of the richest cities in India, with its burgeoning pharmaceutical and IT industries. Tagged as the “City of the Nizams” or the “City or Pearls,” its well-preserved culture and rich history, coupled with its majestic palaces and exquisite cuisine, make it an interesting destination for travelers seeking a destination off the beaten track.

TRAVELER’S CHECKLIST VISA REQUIREMENT India requires a visa for Philippine tourists and other foreign nationals. For more inquiries, contact the Embassy of India. Tel. (63)(2) 555-5060, 478-9152 | embindia.org.ph or indianvisaonline.gov.in CURRENT EXCHANGE RATE 1 US$ = 54.58 Indian Rupees TIME DIFFERENCE Hong Kong and the Philippines are two hours and thirty minutes ahead of India.

WHEN TO GO

ADDITIONAL TEXT AND RESEARCH BY ANDREA AUSTRIA, GETT BALADAD, PAULINE MIRANDA, MARIEL RETONEL, KIMBERLY SIOCO, AND ANGEL TUASON

Hyderabad is extremely hot in the summer, with temperatures reaching as high as 45ºC. The best time to go is from October to March when the temperatures are cooler and there is little rain.

Park Hyatt Hyderabad

HOW TO GET THERE Cathay Pacific operates daily flights directly to Hyderabad from Hong Kong.

WHERE TO STAY Taj Falaknuma Palace

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TAJ FALAKNUMA PALACE A luxurious and royal experience awaits guests in this historic palace hotel with a breathtaking view of the sky at 2,000 feet above sea level. This classic hotel has been restored to the highest and most authentic standard. It also has the best fine dining experience in Hyderabad. www.tajhotels.com

PARK HYATT HOTEL This ultra-modern and luxurious hotel is a great favorite of visiting top businessmen for its state-of-the-art rooms and consistently impeccable service. It is also convenient to Hyderabad’s central business district and new commercial areas. hyderabad.park.hyatt.com www.travelife.biz

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Travelife Magazine June - July 2013